Urging the 20th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to “act now,” UN officials in Lima, Peru stressed today that fully tackling the impacts of man-made climate change requires a transformation – not mere “tinkering” with past agreements and pledges.
UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon delivered a message of “hope and urgency,” calling for increased momentum in global efforts. While Governments were responding in unprecedented ways and businesses and communities worldwide were also stepping up, he warned that “collective action does not match our common responsibilities.”
The Conference, which opened on 1 December and wraps up this Friday, brings together the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC – the parent treaty of the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol – in an attempt to hammer out the new universal treaty, which would enter force by 2020. Mr. Ban said he had five requests of all parties.
“First, we must deliver here in Lima a balanced, well-structured, and coherent draft text for the 2015 agreement that provides a clear and solid foundation for negotiations next year in Paris,” he said, stressing the importance of a common understanding on the scope and status of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and calling particularly on major economies and developed countries, to submit their INDCs by the first quarter of 2015.
He continued, calling for tangible progress in solidifying the climate finance regime, including capitalization of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and leveraging of private finance, and stressed also the need to prioritize provision of adaptation support and resilience building, particularly for the most vulnerable.
“The GCF must deliver on its promise to balance support for adaptation and mitigation. Work on loss and damage must be accelerated and we must bring the National Adaptation Plans of developing countries to life by agreeing how they should be funded and implemented.”
He also stressed the importance of partnerships, urging Governments to take the lead on building frameworks and to cooperate with a broad range of actors, and he underlined the importance of ratification of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.
“This is not a time for tinkering – it is a time for transformation,” he urged, drawing attention to the link between addressing manmade climate change and building more resilient, prosperous, and healthier societies, which was highlighted in his synthesis report on the post-2015 development agenda.
“Investments in addressing climate change will propel gains in broader development goals. Conversely, investments made in development must be aligned with our climate aims,” he said.
President of the UN General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, echoed the Secretary-General's words, warning that the world was moving towards a “tipping point.”
“Without immediate and concerted efforts, it will be impossible for the present and succeeding generations to achieve sustainable development,” he said.
Stressing the importance of mitigation measures to “step back from the precipice of catastrophic climate change consequences,” he underlined the need for collective, international political will to transform the current economic and social models into low carbon and ultimately climate neutral economies.
Expectations are high and time pressure demand those expectations be fulfilled, so he had scheduled a High Level Event on Climate Change for 29 June next year in New York. Taking place mid-way between COP 20 in Lima and COP 21 in Paris, the event sought to maintain momentum and complement UNFCCC negotiations.
Also pointing to high expectations, Christina Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, said the time had come to leave “incremental change” behind and steer the world toward a “profound and fundamental” transformation.
“Never before have we had such an opportunity, never before have we had such an urgency for transformation,” she said. “Ambitious decisions, leading to ambitious actions on climate change, will transform growth-opening opportunities instead of propagating poverty; safeguarding resources instead of depleting them; and valuing long-term stability over short-term volatility.”
She looked to the gathered ministers to guide negotiators towards a draft agreement that could be taken from Lima to Paris and to assume their “undeniable role as leaders of the urgent present and stewards of our shared future.”
It is not just about reductions in greenhouse gas emissions but also protecting the most vulnerable, alleviating poverty and creating a future with prosperity for all.
“Here in Lima, we must plant the seeds of a new, global construct of high quality growth, based on unparalleled collaboration bridging all previous divides,” she said.